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From Under A Rock: Predators

October 3, 2018 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
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From Under A Rock: Predators  


Remember when Adrien Brody tried to be an action star? It wasn’t horrible, but it also wasn’t amazing. That was this movie, so let’s check it out!

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last time Aaron chose Howard the Duck. This week Michael takes Aaron out from under the proverbial rock to show him Predators.

Released: July 7th, 2010
Directed by: Nimród Antal
Written by: Alex Litvak & Michael Finch
Adrien Brody as Royce
Alice Braga as Isabelle
Topher Grace as Edwin
Walton Goggins as Stan
Laurence Fishburne as Ronald Noland

Michael Ornelas: Well, I picked this originally because it was topical and this column was supposed to go up a week before The Predator was released. But my schedule has become increasingly difficult and I have other projects that are higher priorities. So we’re still doing this, but a hiatus is on the horizon. Anyways, I enjoyed this movie when I saw it the year it came out. I figured we should revisit it and see if it held up ahead of the new film.

Aaron Hubbard: Hard for me to say whether it holds up, since this is my first look at it. I’m glad I saw more of this series before the new one was released.
Going to Their World
Michael: I think the big selling point of this movie is the fact that it takes place on the home planet of the predators, and gives us insight into their culture in a way that the previous movies didn’t bother with. The results are mixed as far as quality of film, but it has a cool, distinct visual style and gives much more depth to the creatures themselves. The traps, the Predator dog-like things, and even the survivor who’s managed to hide among them in Laurence Fishburne are all interesting additions to this lore.

Aaron: It definitely feels like the right way to go with this series. The obvious inspiration is Aliens, as the title suggests. We’ve got more of these Predators, they have new tricks, and the film is reminiscent of the first while still feeling new. In terms of expanding the scope of the series, I would say this succeeds and is worth watching for fans of the original. Which is an infinitely superior film, to be clear.

Michael: Oh absolutely. On a premise level, this movie succeeds highly, but once you actually see how the pieces are assembled, it falls apart a little bit. I wouldn’t call it bad, but it had much more potential than it lived up to.
Misuse of Assets
Aaron: As I was watching this, I was hit with a feeling several times that some assets were cool in concept but lacking in execution. There’s a series of traps early on that ceases to become threatening as everyone dodges them, making it feel more like a Looney Tunes skit. I’m not asking for a ton of death, but some injuries would have been good. Another thing struck me when Ronald Noland arrives and takes the survivors to his hideaway. This place is full of dimly lit and narrow corridors, and again reminds me of the Alien franchise. And it also struck me that these two monsters are dangerous in different ways; the Predators actually feel less threatening in a closed environment. In wide spaces their cloaking means you never know where they are. In a corridor? Well, shoot at the space, you’ll probably hit it.

Michael: Yeah, that pinpointed the issues I have with this movie. There were two other assets I feel they misused though: Danny Trejo and Topher Grace. Trejo is a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine, and I feel they offed him way too early in the script. He was a ton of fun for the limited screen time he did have, and my thought is why not keep the fun around for longer? And Topher Grace’s character being villainous at the end was laughable. It was nice to see him get his comeuppance, but the plot point made me roll my eyes hard. It was unnecessary, and I’m someone who’s very forgiving of plot turns and betrayals usually.

Aaron: Why include extra villains in a movie like this anyway? Because Aliens did it? Well, here’s a tip for anyone else who tackles this series. The Predators are great villains and adding more to the mix is subtraction by addition.
Michael: Looney Tunes traps aside, this movie pulled no punches when it came to murdering off its heroes. Not quite as much as Shane Black in the new one, but I always appreciate a good “thinning of the herd” in horror and action films, and it’s fun when I see that embraced with creativity.

Aaron: I really do enjoy the kills in this movie. The film makes each death matter, which is something a lot of films struggle with. It’s also spread out over the runtime. Whenever we think we can get comfortable, the movie isn’t afraid to give us a memorable kill. I especially how Nikolai and Hanzo get noble last stands.

Michael: Hanzo’s was amazing, although incredibly stereotyped. I didn’t mind, because he got to go out like a badass but it still seemed kind of…easy? But that’s splitting hairs when I really did enjoy the moment.

Aaron: Predators is a passable but unremarkable action B-Movie. I’m typically inclined to go easy on those movies but expected more from this one.


Michael: Yeah, I didn’t like it as much as I did when it came out. My rating is similar. To me it’s perfectly middling.


Aaron: So what did you think of the new one, especially compared to Predators?

Michael: I loved the new one. It was Shane Black not giving any fucks. I don’t think it was a great story and had some eye-rolling plot points as well, but all the action and the camp were top notch.

What is the second best Predator movie?

Next week:

Aaron: We’re in October now and that means it’s time for a horror movie. And I’ve picked a classic.
Wicker Man
Michael: NOT THE BEES! OH GO– Okay, different one, but it’s hard not to think about it. I’m excited, and may make you watch the Nic Cage one afterwards…

Aaron: I try very hard not to think about it…

What is the worst horror remake of all time?

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The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Predators succeeds at the concept level but stumbles in the execution. The cast is talented but the characters are one-note. The kills are fun but the action often lacks excitement and tension. Ultimately, it's a middle of the road distraction that's better if you have an affinity for the series.